Loudoun County schools' chief of staff axed over sex-attack scandal: reports

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The chief of staff for Virginia’s Loudoun County school district has been fired after a still-secret investigation into sexual assaults by a boy who was allowed to stay in classes, according to local reports.

The troubled school district confirmed to local media this week that chief Mark Smith was no longer in the job — while also announcing a probe into the sex attacks had been wrapped, but would not be released.

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Asked about the end of Smith’s job, which he held for exactly a year, a spokesperson for the district would only tell the Loudoun Times-Mirror, “The position is vacant.”

However, sources confirmed to Loudoun Now that he was axed, with the decision made last week, when he was also scrubbed from the school board’s website.

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His exit was directly linked to the independent investigation into sex assaults at high schools. Officials confirmed to 7News that the report had been completed, but was not going to be made public.

public schools, schools, sexual assaults, virginia

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Mark Smith was fired from his chief of staff position at Loudoun County Schools following a sexual assault investigation at a student bathroom.

Loudoun County Public Schools

The case involved a then-14-year-old skirt-wearing boy who attacked a 15-year-old girl in a school bathroom in May — but was allowed to transfer to a neighboring school, where he struck again.

It made national headlines when Scott Smith, the father of the first victim, was wrestled to the ground and arrested while trying to raise his concerns at a school board meeting — a bust that was then used to suggest that parents were acting like domestic terrorists.

His daughter’s attacker was last week put on the sex offender registry for the rest of his life by a judge who said the boy’s psychosexual evaluations “scared me for society.”

public schools, schools, sexual assaults, virginia

Officers detain protester Scott Smith during a Loudoun County School Board meeting in Ashburn, Virginia on June 22, 2021.

REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

School officials, who said in earlier meetings there were no issues with such attacks, were accused of deliberately hiding the threat.

Schools superintendent Dr. Scott Ziegler blamed federal protocols that meant they also had to protect the attacker until it was confirmed he was a danger. Smith was responsible for upholding those Title IX protocols, the local reports noted.

Ian Prior, executive director of the parents’ advocacy group Fight for Schools, told the Times-Mirror that axing Smith was “a positive development” — albeit not the real one that parents still want.

public schools, schools, sexual assaults, virginia

Parents demand Loudoun County Schools superintendent Dr. Scott Ziegler be fired as well.

7News

public schools, schools, sexual assaults, virginia

Locals protest Loudoun County Schools’ transgender bathroom policy outside a school board meeting in Ashburn, Virginia on Oct. 26, 2021.

REUTERS/Leah Millis

“The fact remains that the buck stopped with Superintendent Scott Ziegler and the former leadership of the school board,” he told the paper.

“Ziegler remaining while his subordinates take the fall only further diminishes the trust in LCPS leadership, particularly when there is a publicly funded ‘independent’ report on the failures of LCPS that Ziegler refuses to release to the public.”

The district blamed attorney-client privilege and sensitive personal information in the investigation’s findings for not releasing it.

However, Scott Smith, the arrested dad of the first assaulted girl, told 7News, “Of course, they are not going to release what happened. What happened is horrific.”

“There are so many high-up players involved in this cover-up. It’s just unbelievable,” he said.

One school board source told Loudoun Now that Smith was made “the fall guy” — while predicting others will also soon follow.

“I don’t believe that this is the end. I think the superintendent will have a new job by the end of the year,” the source predicted.

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